Trade School vs. College

The stigma surrounding trade school has persisted for decades, specifically the idea that without a college degree, finding a stable, well-paying job will be nearly impossible. Thankfully, attitudes are changing as shifts in the job market and the economy not only create the need for more skilled trade workers, but directly prove those stigmas to be inaccurate. There are plenty of factors that are overlooked when weighing the two options, such as some of the long-term effects of college debt on mental health, higher dropout rates for college students, and the false conception that a college degree will always guarantee job security. Aside from those factors, it’s important to consider some of the biggest ones that differ greatly between the two options.

For those seeking a relatively shorter educational experience so they can get right to work, trade school is a favorable option since most programs take only 2 years to complete, compared to the traditional 4 years or more for college degree programs. Longer educational programs, even with financial aid, can be daunting and costly. The shorter programs offered through trade school means less money spent on an education, and the opportunity to enter the job market and start earning and saving sooner.

According to, the average tuition cost for any 4-year college program is $20,471, (not including expenses like room and board, textbooks, and supplies), and student loan debt averages $37,584. Trade school, on the other hand, on average costs about $33,000 for an entire education, according to U.S. News. There are also less additional costs for trade school, and though many may not be aware, there are financial aid options available to help lessen these costs. Of course, costs can vary greatly depending on many different factors, but these averages definitely can attest to the fact that college is the costlier choice.

Salaries and demand
One of the largest misconceptions about trade school is that you won’t be able to make a decent salary in a trade profession. A mere glance at the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics will show that there are plenty of high-paying, fast-growing trade jobs in demand, proving this assumption to be wrong.

When it comes to numbers, it is true that jobs requiring college degrees statistically pay more, especially those that provide the opportunity to advance in positions that require more education. However, it is also necessary to consider that the demand for trade jobs is almost always guaranteed to be there, and not get discouraged by false claims that trade jobs won’t pay well.


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